18 year old Annie Holland from Pontypridd put her confirmed university place on hold after completing her A Levels at Coleg y Cymoedd, to volunteer in the Philippines.
Annie has been volunteering in childrenâ€™s homes, hospitals and local communities as part of a Ministries Without Borders project between August and December. She has been keeping a blog detailing all of her amazing experiences. Here are a few short extracts:
The first extract – 30th July – One month to go!
Time has gone so quickly, it only seems like yesterday that I had my first idea that I would like to travel to the Philippines during my gap year. Things are coming together quite nicely. I am starting a blog to keep my family and friends up to date with whatâ€™s going on while Iâ€™m away. I know I havenâ€™t left yet, but itâ€™s all so exciting I just wanted to share my preparations with the social networking world.
August 17th – Two weeks to go!
I found out my results and that I will be going to my first choice: the University of East Anglia to study mental health nursing in September 2015, when I am home from the Philippines. Iâ€™M GOING TO UNI!
September 19th – Dumpsite: putting things into perspective
Yesterday I visited a rubbish tip, where MWBPi (Ministries Without Borders Phillipines) are going twice a week to have a Sunday school type meeting with the kids, with songs and games. They also hand out an evening meal to the children who come.
When you walk into where the people are living, the smell is the first thing that hits you. With rotting food, decaying rubbish and animal waste it really is awful. However the people donâ€™t complain. The houses are built from things that they have found on the tip, and with the amount of wind and rain that comes in the wet season, the houses really donâ€™t suffice.
It really made me stop and think; about my attitude towards my life- in comparison I live a luxurious life. In the UK, we all do. Itâ€™s not until you see these people first hand, and witness the conditions that they are living in and yet they still donâ€™t complain that you realize we have nothing to moan about.
September 28th â€“ One month in!
So, after a month of leaving home, I really feel like I have settled in here. Coming here was 100% the right thing to do. From spending time with the babies and children to visiting the local prison, everything I am doing here is impacting my life and other peopleâ€™s lives.
October 10th – Observing a birth
Then around 9:15, we got called to the clinic to watch a birth. There were no complications, and the baby cried right away. She was so tiny; I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever seen anything so cute and lovely.
Watching a birth wasnâ€™t at all how I expected it to be, nothing like one born every minute. After I left, I just couldnâ€™t stop smiling. It was one the nicest things I have ever had the pleasure to experience, and I feel so privileged to have been able to observe the start of a new life.
13th November – Five in a bed: hospital visit
There were 10 in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll over.â€™ This nursery rhyme certainly came to mind when I visited the maternity ward in General Trias hospital. Three women and their three newborn babies sharing a bed, it makes it worse that they had just gone through a c section- so were attempting to recover from major abdominal surgery. We were told that in the one ward there were 40 beds and 98 patients, not including the babies and the partners of the women. She also said that this isnâ€™t the most they have. Never complain about the standard of our lovely free health care in the UK, here they pay to share a bed with 4 other women.
Read the full blog of Annieâ€™s once in a lifetime trip to the Philippines at: https://anniesphilippinesblog.wordpress.com/
Rhondda Cynon Taff